This interview is part of our new Blockchain In Advertising series, where we interview the world's leading thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between blockchain and advertising.
In this interview we speak with Zheng Zhang, CEO and Co-Founder of EnvisionX, to understand how his company is using blockchain to transform the advertising business, and what the future of the industry holds.
1. What’s the story behind EnvisionX and EXChain? Why and how did you begin?
ZZ: Both my co-founder Vlad and myself have been working in the digital advertising since 2012 and have had the chance to learn and grow our experience in the programmatic space in particular. Having had conversations and worked with more than a hundred platforms in the space, we managed to develop insightful and extensive expertise across the space on commercial and product fronts, as well as the challenges the industry is facing.
The business EnvisionX we co-founded in 2015 was about building ad tech applications which can bring buyers and sellers closer on a more efficient trading basis. With that in mind, we came up with the idea of building out a new platform called EXChain and applying the blockchain technology into digital advertising to address some of the most concerning challenges such as spend transparency and efficiency.
2. Please describe your use case and how EnvisionX uses blockchain:
ZZ: Our blockchain-enabled EXChain platform is a next-generation advertising management platform in its very nature. By using the platform, stakeholders of digital campaigns will be integrated together instead of being isolated as seen today, and this linkage enables all stakeholders including advertisers and publishers to gain a full end to end transparency of campaign participants and the fee and spend incurred, eradicating the possibility of claiming any unauthorised fees and making it possible to reduce spend wastage on unnecessary platforms and intermediaries.
3. Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has your service done for them?
ZZ: We have run a successful proof-of-concept with agency ADK and brand Unilever in Japan back to Q1 2019. In this PoC, we managed to demonstrate how campaign impression and spend stats were transacted in the blockchain environment for full transparency of ad chain and how smart contract can execute the commercial deals in an automated way.
We also have just completed a pilot successfully in the US market with an international leading food brand and one of the biggest media agencies. This pilot extended beyond the success of Unilever PoC and achieved a significant uplift of spend efficiency and audience reach without needing the client to increase their cost base. More specific numbers should be publicly announced within the next few months.
4. What other blockchain use cases in the advertising industry are you excited about?
ZZ: Historically, the advertising industry had taken the technology advancement over the quality, i.e. both spend and inventory qualities. The emergence of blockchain technology provides a groundbreaking way both in the regards of technology and workflow so the advertisers and their campaign stakeholders can finally utilise a tool to tackle some of the old but more critical challenges, such as transparency and spend efficiency. Other applications of blockchain in the space are such as spend reconciliation and performance and fraud protection. We are living in an advertising world today in which most players are still experiencing the blockchain technology and yet to come to a conclusion on what the best applications of the technology are, however, exciting findings and meaningful learnings have been made in the past 12 months and are available for great educational pieces.
5. Where will EnvisionX and EXChain be in 5 years?
ZZ: We will continue to educate the market about the importance of understanding their advertising transparency and spend efficiency in a day to day manor in various conversations. I expect the EXChain solution to be adopted with acceleration in one or two years time from now on. I see EnvisionX becomes a key player of its kind at a global scale in 5 years time and continue making its contribution to the general well being of the advertising industry and constantly striving for a healthier advertising ecosystem.